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back to article Women are too expensive to draw and code – Ubisoft

Ubisoft's creative director Alex Amancio has stirred up another row over sexism in the gaming industry by saying the studio's new game, Assassin's Creed Unity, doesn't feature any female characters because it would have been too much of an effort to create them. Amancio's opinion emerged in this video interview posted by gaming …

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So which is it?

Too expensive or because the story demands a male character even if his avatar can change ?

The latter would be more credible, but I wasn't aware multiplayer games ever really needed a story, and the previous AC games had female assassins in both MP and SP (as part of the group of NPC assassin's you can summon)

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Re: So which is it?

@Valeyard

Uhhh, both. At least the way I read it, which was:

The story/campaign/single-player is based around the main, 'Arno' character, who is male. All the work for that character has to be done. Obviously. There is also a multiplayer mode and there was a plan to ADD the option of female avatars for that mode but time/budget constraints made that unfeasible.

In short, "we didn't have the time to create a female avatar specifically for the multiplayer mode".

Again, at least that's how I read it, which would turn the headline from "Women are too expensive to draw" into "it's too expensive to add a female option with comparable complexity (models, animations, skins, voicings) for just the multiplayer mode."

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Re: So which is it?

And the inevitable, "We're now releasing DLC for remale avatars whcih wil cost an additional £6.99"

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Re: So which is it?

And £9.99 for the version with clothing that amounts to more than a bikini...

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Re: So which is it? @ Tim

I'm sure it would be the other way around, if they're smart....

About two months later the first n3kk1d mods will appear..

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Double the assets

Mmmmmm!

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Re: So which is it?

The nude mods/packs usually cost extra.

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Re: So which is it?

Multiple male characters are not an issue as even though they might look different in multi-player due to external differences (i.e., skins), the basic framework of the character is identical. Hence, no additional development needed.

A second body type would require doubling that part of the development cycle, regardless of the sex of that character.

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Re: So which is it?

What about the ability to have a wheelchair using avatar, or a blind avatar or one wearing women's clothes? What about one with one arm, or one leg or.........

Personally I can't see what the big deal is, I can't remember being able to play Tomb Raider as a man.

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Paris Hilton

Re: So which is it?

"And £9.99 for the version with clothing that amounts to more than a bikini..."

Per month, obviously...ahem.

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Trollface

Re: Double the assets

Good job he didn't have a stutter - that would have landed him in trouble.

In other news, feminists are outraged that women are not being portrayed as equally vicious murderers. "We're just as capable of deviously ruthless stonecold killers!" sniffed the blogosphere.

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non story

A lot of people on El reg work in IT. This story of extra costs rings true.

No-one ever wanted a female mario or female sonic.

The guy sounds reasonable, they wanted a female character but realised the costs.... simple.

Does anyone really think we live in a world where someone at a game company decided to scarp a female player because they are sexist. Sounds like the media were looking for something to get upset about.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: non story

Wholly agree.

Further, I'm intrigued to know whether the people who are crying sexism believe that the 'extra development' argument is false.

It looks obviously true to me, so I'm intrigued to know if anyone disagrees and why.

If they don't, what are the grounds for claiming sexism? I don't remember being able to play a man in Tomb Raider...

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Re: non story

"A lot of people on El reg work in IT. This story of extra costs rings true."

No it doesn't.

"No-one ever wanted a female mario or female sonic."

No one ever played a mario or sonic game that was a proper RPG, with customisable characters.

In games of this type however, it's the norm. Not just two genders, but multiple body types/species/heads/voices/outfits..

"The guy sounds reasonable, they wanted a female character but realised the costs.... simple.!"

Not really..

Female meshes abound. Add an extra mesh option with the same animation rigs, and job done. Near zero costs. In fact, the modelling for a single building probably would cost more.

Other RPGs allow players to play which ever gender they like, AND which ever species they like, with individual animation styles for each species. Elves don't move like Dwarves, and mages don't lumber like big human barbarians.

This is not a new and unusual thing. This is the default for RPGs. Even the free ones..

So please.. cut the crap. A female option is not actually expensive.

Hire some out of work actor to do the voice acting, and job done. Probably for less money than they pay forum stuffers.

Something else is the excuse, but it ain't costs or animation complexity.

Puritanical policy decision?

Worries about ratings being tightened up to avoid impossibly over developed female stereotypes?

Insecure male management?

But cost and complexity.. Please.. The other one's got bells on.

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Re: non story

" I don't remember being able to play a man in Tomb Raider..."

No, you got to play as a male w*nk fantasy instead.

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Re: non story

"Female meshes abound. Add an extra mesh option with the same animation rigs, and job done. Near zero costs. In fact, the modelling for a single building probably would cost more."

I'm glad to know that you, John Bailey, knwo more about this guy's game than he does, and have decided that he is talking rubbish about the development of his own game.

"Other RPGs allow players to play which ever gender they like, AND which ever species they like, with individual animation styles for each species. Elves don't move like Dwarves, and mages don't lumber like big human barbarians."

If you have played Assassin's Creed you will have found that their characters do an awful lot more than the walking/running that RPG characters do. Indeed, lots of characters in the game are female, they are NPCs, and they can walk and run. What they cannot do is climb up buildings, run over taut ropes, etc., and these are *not* going to be in the standard "female meshes".

"So please.. cut the crap. A female option is not actually expensive. Hire some out of work actor to do the voice acting, and job done. Probably for less money than they pay forum stuffers."

Oh, you mean an expense. There's the first one. You conveniently ignore the fact that they need several voiceover actors for the various localizations, but anyway.

"Insecure male management?"

So please...cut the crap. Unless you work for Ubisoft or have an in-depth knowledge of how *this* game is programmed you can't decide to ignore his explanation and cast significant aspersions on his character, that he is so insecure that he cannot let women play as women in a computer game? Does your head actually think the thoughts you write, or are your fingers connected to some random thought generator?

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Rob
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Re: non story

"Does your head actually think the thoughts you write, or are your fingers connected to some random thought generator?"

I think his arse cheeks are wrapped round his head which might have interfered with his thought processes, it's the only explanation I can think of for the crap he just spewed forth.

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Re: non story

@jeremy 3

EXACTLY.

One of my default positions is to suspect incompetence and laziness before malicious intent. I do so because, in my experience, people of the former stripe are far more common than those of the latter. Likewise, it seems far more likely that there were hawkishly observed pennies than a cabal of evil men out to foist a patriarchal ideal onto the public.

Capitalism has one great benefit - money is colour-blind. Okay, so that's more about race but the same is true for gender. If money can be made or saved, it will be.

It's not sexist - in fact it's utterly non-discriminatory. The only question that is being asked is: "how do we best use our limited budget to gain the most profit?".

If the answer was: "spend money making a female avatar for MP" then you can be assured there would be a female avatar for MP. If it was "have a female lead" then there would be a female lead.

There's no way for a manufacturer to be LESS sexist that simply following the money. If that course leads to an outcome that is considered sexist then that reflects on society more than the developers, publishers and financial backers.

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Re: non story

"Female meshes abound. Add an extra mesh option with the same animation rigs, and job done."

A fine job indeed, too, if you assume the long, tedious, extra work of remaking the textures for that mesh, and also for every single apparel option, accessory, weapon, etc. that comes in the game and will combine with it - unless you're fine with insulting every female gamer in the world with a very non-matching texture of a guy's face and musculature superimposed (and way off) over a gal's body...

A fine job, yes, surely, with a wrong-scaled mesh that will look silly using animations made for a mesh where the joints are off, the bones are different length, the centers of mass (and thus, inertia of body in movement) are off, the attachment nodes for weapons and accessories are off and the wrong scale, etc.

A "female" character with very male grunt sounds when jumping, falling, hurting, etc. With lots of silly clipping, 90s style, with feet hovering off ground or ankle-deep in it depending on the action, "roller-skating" on invisible free-wheels as it walks and runs, with hands that lift or grab things at a distance by magic and wobbly fuse into walls and scales when climbing, etc. A testament to the long-standing quality of character animation in the Assassin's Creed series, indeed.

Mr Bailey I'm afraid you know very little of the video-game industry. I'm afraid you also know very little about female gamers, because offering a satisfactory variety of options for dressing a female character takes a LOT more work than just than fiddling with a male mesh and adjusting some proportions. And few things scream "shoddy" louder to girls than seeing leg / skirt polygon clipping on female characters in 3D videogames.

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Re: non story

Yep, it was not sexist, just that they had a male model finished, because they needed one for the story. Then they looked at making another avatar, this time in female form and looked at how expensive it is to make avatar and how long it would take to make another avatar and decided against it.

The fact that the second avatar would have been female is neither here nor there, it could have been a Vogon or Vorlon, it would all have cost the same - well, the shapeless Vorlon cloak might have saved on costs, but it is sparkly...

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Re: "Add an extra mesh option with the same animation rigs, and job done"

You left out the months of research and physics modelling that is necessary to ensure that their oversized breasts bounce in the appropriate fashion.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: non story

"No-one ever wanted a female mario or female sonic."

Are you sure?! How do you know?

Not a single girl gamer in all their years ever stuck in front of an NES wishing they could play as "Super Maria". Not a single one? Not a single one wondering why the only girl in the whole game is princess that constantly needs rescuing? Amazing.

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Re: Super Maria

My younger (female) cousins had this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Giana_Sisters

And, yes, you could play as "Maria"

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Re: non story

The Tomb Raider reboot multiplayer mode had male avatars that you could select IIRC, however all of the selectable avatars were based on the in-game models from the single player campaign.

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Re: non story

Oh, it can all be made quite reasonable.

The trouble is that, especially when social media get involved, a great many people start putting out sexist insults. Ask why Ubisoft have done this, and you will be insulted, but only if you're using an apparently female identity.

There is an Assassin's Creed game which has a woman as protagonist. There have been women as recurring characters. So the argument isn't about doing something new. There's a suspicion that the people who made the decisions have a bias. And there is a lot of growing resentment, on both sides. There are people expressing opinions, and there are teenagers.

Some people have been getting verbose about Tomb Raider, and I think a part of the whole issue is that the technology is good enough for the game protagonists to pass as people. Recent instances of these long-running series are becoming quite movie-like, and we want something more than a string of action scenes. Stories matter.

In some of this I am reminded of such things as the Wing Commander series.

But go look at what's on TV. In many ways, something like GTA5, while it makes the criminals the protagonists, is a long way behind TV Drama. How long before we get something that does for games what Lynda La Plante did for TV crime drama?

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Re: "Add an extra mesh option with the same animation rigs, and job done"

There's plenty of modeling, for both games and comics, which leaves me with a feeling that people do their research from porn videos.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: non story

"No one ever played a mario or sonic game that was a proper RPG, with customisable characters."

The Assassin's Creed series of games are not "a proper RPG, with customisable characters" by any stretch of the imagination.

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Facepalm

Re: non story

Damned if they do, and damned if they don't. With no female characters, they are cursed for having no female characters. If they DID have female characters, they'd be cursed for objectifying them, or their clothes, or whatever.

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I'm not sure I agree with you a hundred percent on your police work, there, Lou.

"No-one ever wanted a female mario or female sonic."

A VARY brief search of the internet proves this completely wrong. Just google "female mario" or "female sonic" with safe-search off. Go on, I dare you.

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Paris Hilton

Re: "Add an extra mesh option with the same animation rigs, and job done"

Quite. The polygon count would go up at a staggering rate, plus, how many of us have graphics cards that can handle B00bPhysX?

Paris, since we're talking about boobs...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: non story

Christ, it's not hard.

It's not like this guy is sat there thinking "How can we undermine women today? I know, I won't allow playable female characters in the new Assassins Creed game! Mwah-ha-ha-haaa!" No-one does that. At least not mostly.

What makes it sexist is that they don't care enough about providing a way to represent people who comprise more than half the population.

I suspect the intent behind the statement was phrased really badly but the fact you don't think it's sexist that someone can make a commercial decision on a product intended for a general audience without caring enough about representing half that audience suggests to me you should think about what the word means a bit more deeply. It's not just active sexism that's the issue but the representational blindness that leads to bone headed statements like this.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Add an extra mesh option with the same animation rigs, and job done"

"B00bPhysX"

Damn you for reminding me of Dead or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball...

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Re: non story

"No, you got to play as a male w*nk fantasy instead."

I don't know about you, but a badass with a pair of .45s and a worse attitude isn't any wank fantasy of mine...

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Creating two genders of characters twice as expensive as creating one

NEWS AT 11, SHOCKER!

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Re: Creating two genders of characters twice as expensive as creating one

It's more than twice as expensive. The writers need to write, and the voice actors need to record three times the dialog, and developers need two to five times the attire, accessories, hair styles, etc. Then there's all the makeup options to code into the face mask. "Twice" is a gross understatement.

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They manage it exceptionally well ....

..... in Mass Effect and Saints Row. Shepard can be male or female, The Saints leader can be male or female (with different accents too). Burt 'Motherf***ing' Reynolds can't be anything other than himself though.

Never bothered with AC after playing the first one. Sat down expecting to be an assassin from the middle ages and found out that it's a fecking time travel dream. Bunch of arse.

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Re: They manage it exceptionally well ....

And the last Call of Duty and Gears of War 3 and I think its there in Sunset Overdrive, also Dark Souls, Sega Bass Fishing, Red Dead Redemption MP, Parts of Batman Arkham City, Fable 2 and 3 I think? Cheap developers being lazy, makes it easier not to chose Ubisoft games in the future though.

Also, as posted by Gabe Miller on Vine

https://vine.co/v/MjHweVipWEX

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Double the visual assets

Chortle.

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Any fule architect kno this

With free SketchUp any architect-schmarchitect can model a guy-looking figure - a few triangles and a few rectangles.

For a female-looking figure, you'd need Rhino, possibly Grasshopper, and more of a clue than your average architect.

Cheap buildings: boxes. Expensive buildings: curves.

This is not sexist, this is geometry.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Any fule architect kno this

Not just the static art - getting the movement physics right is also going to be more complex.

This reminds me of the old anecdote as to why a ship is called "she."

Curves = expensive. True on so many levels... ;)

AC always a good idea!

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So women deserve higher pay

I did not think about it before, but now it has become clear that women are just more expensive than men due to geometrical reasons. I'm so sorry for having had silly ideas about the reasons before - now I understand the poor creatures just can't do anything about it.

So consequently, women need higher pay than men.

/Zane

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Re: So women deserve higher pay

Zane» So consequently, women need higher pay than men.

Let us compromise and say broadly that they ought to get paid better than what they are getting at the moment.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So women deserve higher pay

So consequently, women need higher pay than men.

No this is why traditionally men pay for the date, that's where the first layer of additional expenses come.

Then in some cultures you have the bride price, where the grooms family pays the family of the wife so they can join their family, another additional expense of women over men :P

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WTF?

Re: So women deserve higher pay

"""Let us compromise and say broadly that they ought to get paid better than what they are getting at the moment."""

Can you give us examples of where women are paid less than men for doing the same work?

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Re: So women deserve higher pay

Alas, I don't have any figures offhand.

In the spirit of compromise, I was talking about the big picture, wherein women as a whole are paid less than men as whole. If that means more women in senior positions and more men in junior positions, then that is the price to be paid for the compromise. However, this won't change drastically without major social upheaval.

My guess is that in most organisations those who are less pushy get paid less than those who are more pushy. Or rather, lal start out more or less the same and the pushier or more ambitious ones get pay rises more often because they are an arse about it. And women tend to be in the less pushy category.

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Re: So women deserve higher pay

"that women are just more expensive than men due to geometrical reasons.... So consequently, women need higher pay than men."

You got it wrong - women are more expensive, therefore men need higher pay so they could afford the women...

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Re: So women deserve higher pay

Coming into play are also carreer choices. Although _some_ women aggressively pursue carreer advancement more than, say, family and "quality time with the kids", there are massively more women taking part-time or less-demanding jobs to care for their kids. I'm not suggesting it's Teh Wymyn sacred duty to "sacrifice" their carreer to care for the kids, just that a lot do. Of course then that is reflected in gross pay... and it's not generally because of the employer. Call it "social pressure" or "because they fucking demand it"*.

*If it's any indication, look at divorce cases: how many men are willing to give up on the kids' custody... and how many women? Of course that could still be social pressure at work, I suppose, if you try hard enough to crowbar it in.

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makehuman

you can knock up women just as easily as men - but it the coders are all into women I guess they may spend more time knocking up than necessary.

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Trollface

Re: makehuman

Tom7» you can knock up women just as easily as men

Are men easily knocked up? I thought that that was a peculiarly female complaint.

Boom, tish.

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Re: makehuman

"but it the coders are all into women I guess they may spend more time knocking up than necessary."

Or so they would wish...

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